Uncanny X-Men Issue #60 (September 10, 1969)
Story By: Roy Thomas
Art By: Neal Adams
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Brief Description: The mutant pteranodon Sauron faces off against the X-men for the first time!
Characters Introduced in This Issue:
*Sauron (Karl Lykos): Dr. Lykos was a physician, geneticist, and hypnotherapist who was a friend of Professor X. However this friendship would end after the X-Men discovered that Sauron used his hypnotherapist appointments to suck the life force out of his patients. Sauron got his powers by getting bitten by a mutant pteranodon.
-Powers: Sauron is able to suck the life force out of living things and put it into his body. When he absorbs the life force of superhuman mutants, he transforms into a pteranodons, a winged prehistoric creature. Lykos also has the power of hypnosis that he can use by looking into someone’s eyes.
Recurring Characters in This Issue: Larry Trask, Havok, Polaris, Blob, Mesmero, Banshee, Unus the Untouchable, Mastermind, Toad, Quicksilver, The Vanisher, The Scarlet Witch, Iceman, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Cyclops
This issue begins right where the last issue left off. Larry Trask and his Sentinels have been defeated and the X-men are now fleeing Trask’s base to seek medical attention for Havok, who was wounded in the battle with the Sentinels. Unsure of where to bring Havok for treatment, the team brings Alex to Professor X’s old friend Karl Lykos.
We soon discover that Lykos is not what he seems. Lykos says he uses hypnotherapy to cure illnesses, but he really uses his therapy sessions to drain the life sources from people.
The issue then goes into Lykos’ back-story and we find out how he got his powers. When Lykos was a child, he went on an expedition with his father and some of his father’s colleagues. There was a young girl on the expedition named Tanya who Lykos fancied and during the expedition, she went missing.
Determined to find Tanya, Karl goes out searching but when he finds her she is surrounded by Pteranodons. Karl is able to save her from the dinosaurs, but not before they bite him. Later on, Lykos discovers that he has the power to drain the life from people when he accidentally kills his dog.
As time went on, Lykos discovered that he craved human life force like a drug and couldn’t go very long without it. He then set up his therapy business as a cover to deal with his habit.
The issue then shifts back to the present and once Lykos absorbs some of Havok’s life force, Lykos can’t control himself anymore and he turns into Sauron for the first time.
Sauron takes flight into New York City looking for more people to drain and the X-Men hear about the villain on the news. Angry that there is a flying villain on the loose. Angel storms out without Cyclops’ permission to confront Sauron.
The issue ends with Angel looking out in fear as Sauron begins to hypnotize him.
This issue was both very interesting and a little bit boring at the same time. I love that Sauron has now emerged in the X-Men and I enjoyed his origin story, but I wish there was more action in this issue. The X-Men literally do nothing this entire issue. They flee Trask’s base and then refuse to investigate Sauron (Besides Angel).
That being said, I am still really excited for the next issue and for Sauron’s story to continue. I’m sure there will be more action when the X-Men actually face this new villain.
I learned recently through an amazing podcast called Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men that Sauron was originally intended to be a vampire, but the comics code authority did not allow vampires in comics. So instead of having Lykos be a vampire, Roy Thomas decided to make the villain a “vampire” pteranodon instead which is infinitely cooler than a regular vampire. Sauron is one of Marvel’s most unique villains and I always enjoy him.
Besides the lack of action, the only other things I have a problem with in this issue are the faces of Cyclops and Beast without their masks. I like Neal Adams’ art in general but Hank and Scott look ridiculous without their masks on in this issue. Hopefully Adams fixes this soon.
The one thing I did really like about this issue was the characterization of Polaris. She is finally starting to become a fully realized character in this issue. She demands to be a part of the X-Men team and they let her in.
Polaris also declares that she doesn’t need a man to be happy and I love that.
All in all, the presence of Sauron elevates this issue to a 3 out of 5 stars, but I hope the next issue is much better.
A few final notes:
1. Sauron’s life absorbing powers are pretty awesome looking.
2. The Danger Room returns! And I really enjoyed Jean and Polaris using their powers to test the boys.
3. And finally, I love that the X-Men left all of the other mutants stranded at Larry Trask’s base. They definitely could’ve helped them out or they could’ve tried to imprison the evil mutants.
On another note I am back from vacation and I will be back to posting more regularly again now!